Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Great White Shark

Carcharodon carcharias


Fun Facts

    The great white shark is capable of explosive bursts of speed and has been known to jump 3 meters (10 feet) out of the water.

    Great white sharks display countershading, having a white underside and a dark dorsal area.




The great white shark is a type of lamniform shark that lives in the open ocean.  Great white sharks occur in the coastal surface waters worldwide. The body is blue-gray above and white below. The large snout is conical and robust and the body is stout. The eyes are large and black; the dorsal fin is large and sits high on the body. Females are generally larger than males. Great white sharks can grow up to 6 meters (20 feet) long.

Great white sharks feed on marine mammals, such as sea lions and seals, as well as other sharks, large bony fishes, and sea birds. Females give birth to live young with litters from three to 14 young. Several of the islands off Baja and Southern California appear to serve as a nursery for great white sharks. Males become mature at nine to 10 years and females at about 14 years. Great white sharks can have a life span of over 30 years.

Very little is known about the populations of great white sharks, however, it is known that this species is uncommon compared to other widely distributed species of sharks. The great white shark is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

To learn more about great white sharks and their relatives, visit the Sharks & Rays Room at the Aquarium.